Sushil Kumar, Sakshi Malik dropped from Indian wrestling’s central contracts

The Wrestling Federation of India will not renew the contracts of the Olympic medallists owing to their non-performance in the past few years.

By Naveen Peter ·

On the back of unsatisfactory performances over the last few seasons, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has decided to drop double Olympic medallist, Sushil Kumar, and the bronze medallist from Rio 2016, Sakshi Malik, from their central contracts system.

Introduced in 2018, the central contracts have about 150 wrestlers divided into nine groups based on their recent performances with graded financial assistance provided to the grapplers to help further their careers. Sushil Kumar and Sakshi Malik have been a part of the top category since 2018.

The 37-year-old Sushil Kumar has not competed at any level since his early exit at the 2019 world championships. Sakshi Malik has struggled to live up to her status as an Olympic medallist. 

Ever since her triumph at Rio 2016, Sakshi’s performance has seen a steady dip with young sensation Sonam Malik establishing herself as the favourite in the 62kg category.

“The cash incentive is to support the athletes so that their overall performance gets better at the global level. If any player isn’t performing, they don’t get the financial support,” WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar told IANS.

Former world championships medallist Pooja Dhanda (57kg, 59kg) and Asian Games bronze medallist Divya Kakaran (68 kg) have also been dropped for ‘non-performance’.

Teenager Sonam Malik and the silver medallist from the Individual World Cup, Anshu Malik, meanwhile, have been upgraded to the top category

Olympic quota winners -- Ravi Kumar, Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia and Vinesh Phogat -- remain in the top category even though they have largely been out of action in the past year.

“The progress of these four wrestlers is satisfactory,” Tomar reasoned. “Therefore, they will continue to get financial assistance from the federation.”